About the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Where is Holy Island?

Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, is on the northeast coast of England, about 12 miles south of the border with Scotland, and 10 miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the nearest town. The island can be reached from the tiny village of Beal which is on the A1. If you take the road east from here you will come to the tidal causeway which provides access to the island from three hours after high tide to two hours before high tide.

Holy Island Tide Timetables

You should always check the tide times carefully before visiting the island. If you miss the tide you could be stuck on the island for 5 hours. You can find the safe crossing times here and there is also an information board on the landward side of the causeway displaying these.

Never attempt to use the causeway if the tides is coming in and has already begun to cross the road. The tide comes in very rapidly and your car will be overwhelmed in minutes if the water causes your engine to stall!

Use the Google map below to explore the island.

You can take a virtual tour of the island here

Public Transport

The nearest airports are at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Edinburgh, both about 60 miles away. You can take the bus or the train from Newcastle or Edinburgh to Berwick. On some days, there is a bus from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Holy Island itself, but there is always a bus from Berwick or Newcastle to Beal the nearest village on the mainland, but this will leave you with a 5 mile walk to the island. Otherwise, you may need to get a taxi.

Saint Cuthbert's Way

A few energetic pilgrims reach the island by walking the Saint Cuthbert's Way long distance footpath from Melrose. The route passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. You can find out more about Saint Cuthbert's Way here.

If you choose this option, be sure to stop at the Pilgrims Coffee Stop in Morebattle, which is being developed in a disused church. The plan is to develop the church into a pilgrimage resource, but further funds are needed to make this happen. You can download or view the story of the Coffee Stop here.

There is a crowd funding page at https://www.gofundme.com/StCuthbert-s-Coffee-Stop and a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/coffeeshopmorebattle

The Community of Aidan and Hilda on Holy Island

While we own the Open Gate retreat house and a number of members live on the island, we do not seek to expand on the island itself, which like many communities is populated by people from a variety of faiths or none. The island makes its living mostly by tourism, pilgrimage, fishing and farming and we are committed to existing as an integral part of the island community, not dominating it in any way!

Island Websites

  • The island website at www.lindisfarne.org.uk has lots of further information about the island.
  • The lindisfarne-mead.co.uk website provides an opportunity to buy island produce online.
  • The Lindisfarne Scriptorium website provide information about the work of local artist Mary Fleeson, who also has a shop on the island and runs retreats from the Open Gate from time to time.

Holy Island as a Retreat Place

If you want a guided retreat on Holy Island, please check our retreat programme. If you want a personal retreat with or without spiritual direction, check out our retreat guide 'Give yourself a Retreat on Holy Island' which can be found under the Retreat Materials link on the Resources Page. You might want to consider the best time of year for your visit. If you want a very silent retreat, it may be better to visit between late October and early April, when there are fewer visitors on the island, although it is quiet throughout the year when the tide is in.

Communal Prayer on Holy Island

There are three churches on Holy Island: Saint Aidan's (Roman Catholic), Saint Cuthbert's Centre (United Reformed) and Saint Mary's (Anglican). In addition, there are communal prayers in the Community of Aidanand Hilda's Lindisfarne Retreat, which is only 100 metres from The Open Gate, our retreat house.

Saint Aidan's Church (Roman Catholic)

The church, which is on Green Lane, roughly opposite the Post Office, has been beautifully refurbished in recent few years and is always open during the day, as a place of quiet prayer and stillness.

  • Mass is only available when a visiting priest is present on the island. However, a notice is posted on the church door indicating the days and times of Eucharistic services, which do take place most weeks.
  • For more information please phone Sister Tessa: 01289 389323

Saint Cuthbert's Centre (United Reformed Church)

The centre is on the corner of Prior Lane and Fiddler's Green, and is open during daylight hours and offers a quiet place for visitors. Its main features include:

  • Morning Prayer 9.30am Tuesday to Sunday, which involves around 20 minutes of guided stillness and reflection to which all are welcome.
  • A Prayer Tree on which visitors (whom we often never meet) can place prayer requests, each of which is mentioned in our morning prayer.
  • Group Bookings which can be made by the hour, day, or several days if staying elsewhere on the Holy Island.  The Warden, Rachel Poolman, can suggest things to do, or lead part of your programme. All sorts of different interest, church and school groups enjoy using our building.
  • The Bothy - Self-catering retreat accommodation in the former vestry. 
  • The Boiler House Chapel which is open 24 hours a day for private prayer and contemplation.

You can also visit the center's own website for further information.

Church of Saint Mary the Virgin (Anglican)

This is the oldest and largest church on the island and lies at the end of Crossgate Lane.

  • Monday - Saturday
  • Morning Prayer 7.30 am
  • Communion 8.00 am
  • Evening Prayer 17.30 pm
  • (Morning and evening prayer lasts about 25 minutes and communion services 40 minutes)
  • Sunday
  • Communion (BCP) 8.00 am
  • Parish Communion 10.45 am
  • Evening Prayer 6.00 pm

You can visit their website here.

Community Prayer Room

  • The Community of Aidan and Hilda holds ecumenical services Monday to Friday
  • The Prayer Room is currently in the Lindisfarne Retreat, which is about 100m west of the Open Gate along the main road, 'Mary Gate'
  • Celtic Midday Prayer 12.00pm (about 15 minutes)
  • Celtic Night Prayer 9.00pm (about 20 minutes)

For further information visit the Open Gate page